Home :: Film News :: Find a Birthday :: Bright version :: Persian Weblog :: Forum :: Contact
Bahar Lellahi :: 40-year-old Iranian Female filmmaker Murdered in Prison
Bahar Lellahi, an Iranian director and screenwriter from the Northern city of Amol and a resident of Tehran, was killed at the Islamic Republic's detention center and was secretly buried in a cemetery near the city of Karaj..
Dead of Night :: A standout feature by Farhad Vilkiji
“Dead of Night”, a standout feature by Farhad Vilkiji, marking his directorial debut, delves into the struggles of an Iranian intellectual navigating political and personal challenges, promising a poignant exploration of human resilience..
BERLINALE 2024 Encounters :: Interview :: Matías Piñeiro
Matías Piñeiro’s experimental, hour-long film 'You Burn Me', an interesting work based on texts by Cesare Pavese and Sappho about the relationship between two women, was included in this year’s Berlinale Encounters program..
Super Size Me :: A terrific cheeky stunt :: small wonder Morgan Spurlock never matched it
'Super Size Me' director Morgan Spurlock dies aged 53. 'Super Size Me' was his masterpiece – a documentary which really did have an effect and challenged the way we think about food..
Cannes 2024 review :: 'The Seed of the Sacred Fig' - A powerful rebellion in the name of art & freedom
Mohammad Rasoulof examines Iran's contemporary tensions through the internalization of turmoil by a family of four. It's a suspenseful and bold call to arms for those..
Sean Baker’s ‘Anora’ Wins Palme d’Or at 2024 Cannes Film Festival
Sean Baker’s Anora has won the Palme d’Or at the 2024 Cannes Film Festival, which wrapped Saturday night (May 25). It marks Baker’s second time in Competition, following 2021’s Red Rocket..
Cannes 2024 :: ‘Grand Tour’ :: Review :: In Search of Lost Time
Closer in spirit to an essay film like "Sans Soleil" than to a conventional love story, this lushly abstract travelogue is as gorgeous as it is impenetrable. Miguel Gomes’ Beguiling Colonial Romance Travels from Saigon to Shanghai in..
Cannes 2024 :: ‘All We Imagine as Light’ :: A Sensual Triumph
India’s First Cannes Competition Title in 30 Years Is a Sensual Triumph. Payal Kapadia captures the way two women in Mumbai move through the world with bracing intimacy. It is both dreamlike and like waking up from a dream..
Cannes 2024 :: Mohammad Rasoulof Speaking to IndieWire
Rasoulof Made It to Cannes for ‘Seed of the Sacred Fig,’ but His Perilous Journey Out of Iran Isn’t Over. "I consider making works of art as my right, and there’s no reason why I wouldn’t fight for this right."..
Cannes 2024 :: Donald Trump Origin Tale ‘The Apprentice’ Gets 11-Minute Ovation At Its Cannes World Premiere
The Trumps were on the red carpet this evening at the Cannes Film Festival — sort of — as Ali Abbasi’s The Apprentice world premiered in competition. There was lots of hugs..
Cannes Film Festival 2024 ::
Francis Ford Coppola Finally Talks Megalopolis

The Oscar-winning legend has been the subject of deafening rumors about his self-financed new epic. For the first time in public, he finally got to tell his story...
UPDATE :: I exist to narrate :: Mohammad Rasoulof writes about his forced departure from Iran
By publishing a post on his personal Instagram page, he announced his forced departure from Iran. His writing, which you can read here, is a testament to the many artists who were driven..
The Phoenix (Simorgh) is finally online!
The Phoenix (Simorgh) is a short film Written & Directed by Nora Niasari. It follows Mr Farid, an exiled Iranian actor, who teaches drama to reluctant asylum seeker teenagers inside an Australian Detention Centre..
Films Boutique boards Mohammad Rasoulof’s Cannes Competition title
Berlin-based Films Boutique has secured world sales rights to Mohammad Rasoulof’s 'The Seed Of The Sacred Fig' ahead of its premiere in Competition at Cannes, and has closed a distribution deal in France..
Nika's Last Breath :: BBC World Service Documentaries
Secret document says Iran security forces molested and killed teen protester. An Iranian teenager was sexually assaulted and killed by three men working for Iran's security forces, a leaked document understood to have been..
Cannes Film Festival 2024 :: Michel Hazanavicius & Mohammad Rasoulof Movies in Competition Lineup
Cannes Film Festival has added some international titles to Competition Lineup: Hazanavicius‘ 'The Most Precious of Cargoes' and Rasoulof‘s 'The Seed of the Sacred Fig'..
'Biological Terror?!' :: Speculations about Alidoosti's unknown disease
According to some sources, Taraneh told her colleagues that she passed out during her interrogation by IRGC intelligence agents and then, realized that she was injected with an unknown ampoule, after which she felt dizzy..
Taraneh Alidoosti's mother: Pray for her! Her disease is severe!
The celebrated Iranian actress Taraneh Alidoosti's mother has announced that her daughter is suffering from an illness of "unknown origin". Earlier, there were reports that Taraneh Alidoosti was ill and hospitalized..
‘The Apprentice’ :: A dive into the underbelly of the American empire
The drama charts a young Donald Trump’s ascent to power through a Faustian deal with the influential right-wing lawyer and political fixer Roy Cohn. A first look at the forthcoming film from Ali Abbasi, set to premiere at Cannes..
STOCKFISH 2024 :: Review: Tove’s Room
A new biopic about Danish poet Tove Ditlevsen and her tortured marriage to the sadistic news editor Victor Andreasen. We’re in Copenhagen in 1969, and the entire action of this tense, neurotic – yet very intriguing – kammerspiel takes place..
American Fiction :: Movie Review
Jeffrey Wright gives a knockout performance in this edgy, Oscar-nominated comedy. Cord Jefferson marries broad humour with affecting familial dysfunction and biting observations on race. This season’s edgiest comedy arrives with richly deserved Oscar nominations for..
CPH:DOX 2024 :: Review: Silent Trees
Zwiefka – whose last film, Vika! has enjoyed a healthy festival run and is still travelling the world – now trains her lens on a completely different topic: the story of a Kurdish refugee girl stranded in the no man’s land between Belarus and Poland...
CPH:DOX 2024 :: Review: Immortals
Immortals is a dystopian film that turns into an ode to fragility, and it shows the contrasting feelings of those who allowed themselves the luxury of hoping that David might kill Goliath. Maja Tschumi’s film is built around the hopes and broken dreams, but most of all the..
Exiled Iranian Filmmakers Call Out AMPAS Over Omission
Exiled Iranian Filmmakers (IIFMA) has written to AMPAS (Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences) to protest the omission of murdered Iranian director Dariush Mehrjui from the In Memoriam segment of the Academy Award..
Oscar 2024 :: How to Watch Every 2024 Oscar-Nominated Movie
It’s time to fire up your Letterboxd, roller-skate out of the real world, and head off to movie land. The 2024 Oscar nominations have been officially announced, giving you a perfect watchlist for catching up on all the films you..
Berlin: Indie Juries Pick :: ‘Sex’, ‘Dying’ and ‘Cake’
Matthias Glasner's German family epic 'Sterben' (Dying), Iranian feature 'My Favourite Cake,' and Dag Johan Haugerud's Norwegian drama 'Sex' picked up multiple awards from the independent juries at the 74th Berlinale..
BERLINALE 2024 Awards :: Mati Diop’s Dahomey bags the Golden Bear
The 74th Berlinale (15-25 February) was brought to a close tonight by the traditional awards ceremony at the Berlinale Palast, which saw the triumph of Mati Diop’s Dahomey, the winner of this year’s Golden Bear..
BERLINALE 2024 :: Competition Review: Architecton
Several thousand years of architectural history are woven together in Kossakovsky's visionary blockbuster, which almost without dialogue - but with images as sharp as flint and a soundtrack as massive as a pillow - is a total cinematic..
BERLINALE 2024 :: Review: Afterwar
An immersive and uncategorisable film, shot over a period of 15 years, was made in close collaboration with its four Kosovar protagonists. A dark chapter in modern European history draws to a close. Haunted by memories of the past and caught in an uncertain state of limbo..
BERLINALE 2024 Competition :: Review: My Favourite Cake
All eyes were on writer-directors Maryam Moghaddam and Behtash Sanaeeha – or, rather, their absence – at the world premiere of their new film, My Favourite Cake, which has just made its debut in the Competition section of..
NAVALNY (2022) :: Navalny’s Plight in a Russian Prison Highlighted
The fact that this documentary movie involves one of the most brazen incidents of state sponsored assassination in memory means this is a unique document of a very singular man. After almost being poisoned to death in 2020..
CPH:DOX 2024 :: The line-up of the 2024 CPH:DOX competitions
CPH:DOX unveils the films nominated across all six award categories. The selection features 66 films in competition, among which 47 are world premieres, 17 international premieres and 2 European premieres..
BERLINALE 2024 :: ‘My Favourite Cake’ Directors Deliver Powerful Message From Iran
‘My Favourite Cake’ Directors Deliver Powerful Message From Iran After Authorities Banned Travel to Berlinale: ‘Like Parents Forbidden From Looking at Their Newborn Child’..
Farshad Hashemi :: Director of 'Me, Maryam, the Children and 26 Others' :: Interview
“I can’t predict the future, but I know this is just the beginning”. The winner of Göteborg’s Ingmar Bergman International Debut Award plays with fact and fiction in his debut film..
BERLINALE 2024 :: EXCLUSIVE :: Trailer for Berlinale Panorama entry 'My Stolen Planet'
The German-Iranian co-production is a diary-style narrative by Farahnaz Sharifi, from her childhood to the 2022 Women, Life, Freedom uprising..
Farshad Hashemi's film wins The Ingmar Bergman Debut Award at Goteborg Film Festival
The Ingmar Bergman International Debut Award goes to Farshad Hashemi's feature debut 'Me, Maryam, The Children And 26 Others'. The prize consists of a stay at The Bergman Estate on..
‘Eternal’ :: Rotterdam Review :: A soulful exploration of love and regret
How can you commit to the future when life on earth seems so finite? It is a question that haunts the central character in writer/director Ulaa Salim’s admirably offbeat romance Eternal..
IFFR 2024 Tiger Competition :: 'Me, Maryam, the Children and 26 Others'
Farshad Hashemi's feature debut, Me, Maryam, the Children and 26 Others, which has just world-premiered in IFFR's Tiger Competition, will inevitably inspire associations with Iranian cinema's tradition of intertwining..
Berlinale Calls for Iran to Allow Directors to Attend Festival
The Berlin Film Festival has called on Iran to allow directors Maryam Moghaddam and Behtash Sanaeeha to leave the country to attend the world premiere of their new film My Favorite Cake..
"My Favourite Cake" :: to premiere in the Berlinale Competition
Maryam Moghaddam and Behtash Sanaeeha’s My Favourite Cake to premiere in the Berlinale Competition. Last year, the pair were banned from travelling in relation to their film..
Asghar Farhadi, Iranian filmmaker :: “I saw how powerful women are”
In a new interview with french newspaper Le Monde, Farhadi reveals he won't be making any new films in Iran, for the time being, as an act of resistance against the regime..
IPADOC 2024 :: Review :: Son of the Mullah
Nahid Persson pays tribute to Rouhollah Zam, an exiled Iranian activist and journalist with a tragic fate, with a moving film about the pursuit of regime opponents. “I had a beautiful life before I left Iran”..
‘Gunda’ :: Berlin Review :: Intensely moving and quite genuinely unique
Anyone who never thought they could imagine the feelings of an animal will have their mind changed here. Viktor Kossakovsky’s extraordinary film is every bit as resonant as Bresson’s ’Balthazar’ or Bela Tarr’s ’Turin Horse’..
BERLINALE 2024 :: “Sons” by Gustav Möller :: Selected for main Competition
BERLIN. “The Guilty” director Gustav Möller's prison drama “Sons” will be celebrating the World premiere in the International Competition strand of the Berlinale as the first Danish-language film in eight years..
BERLINALE 2024 Competition :: Encounters
The Berlinale (15-25 February) has announced the full line-ups of its Competition and Encounters sections. Twenty films will vie for the Golden and Silver Bears, including two debut features..
La chimera :: A fairy tale with a social conscience and plenty of humor
Alice Rohrwacher's film is clever, ambitious, and funny throughout, but it also works as an intelligent meditation on our attitudes toward life, love, and death. Get used to her name, because she will be sticking around well after..
Iran: PEN International Calls for investigation over Baktash Abtin’s tragic death
PEN International holds the Iranian authorities fully responsible for the death of the prominent writer, poet, and filmmaker Baktash Abtin and calls for an urgent investigation into..
GOLDEN GLOBES 2024 :: 'Anatomy of a Fall' wins two Golden Globes
Justine Triet’s film shone bright at the ceremony, at which the main winners were Christopher Nolan's Oppenheimer and Yorgos Lanthimos’ Poor Things, which also boast European participation..
Tótem :: A dazzling, vibrant child’s-eye view of jubilation and tragedy
Lila Avilés’s latest film is filtered largely through the perspective of a seven-year-old girl who experiences the ups and downs of life in a day with her big and beautiful family.. A co-production between Mexico, Denmark and..
Alexander Payne’s The Holdovers Is a Holiday Triumph
Alexander Payne's new film The Holdovers, starring Paul Giamatti, is the kind of wonderful comedy-drama we used to take for granted. Today it feels like a cinematic miracle. In Payne’s work, one individual’s failings..
Film Orgs call on Iranian authorities to drop charges against two movie directors
Some 30 film organizations, festivals and professionals have signed an open letter calling on Iranian authorities to immediately drop all charges against directors Maryam Moghadam..
Absence :: Ali Mosaffa's mystical thriller
An Iranian man, while investigating into his father's youth in Prague, finds himself in the shoes of a third man who is almost dead and happens to be his half-brother. Absence is an attempt to shed light on a forgotten corner..
‘Cafe’ :: Review :: Screened at 64th Thessaloniki Int. Film Festival 2023
May seem absurdist, but it is at least partially autobiographical. Like his countryman Jafar Panahi, a ban on filmmaking didn’t stop Mihandoust and, in the three years he was waiting for the sentence to be enacted, he..
Stockholm International Film Festival Awards 2023
Best Film: “The Settlers” by Felipe Gálvez Haberle. In a remarkable triumph, Chilean maestro Felipe Gálvez’s brutal western clinched the coveted Best Film award. The film delves into the annals of Chilean colonization and..
36th TIFF :: Tokyo 2023 :: Winners
Family drama Snow Leopard, directed by the late Tibetan filmmaker Pema Tseden, has won the Tokyo Grand Prix, the top prize at this year’s Tokyo Film Festival. Tatami by Zar Amir Ebrahimi and Guy Nattiv won the Special Jury Prize, also the award for Best Actress for Zar Amir..
Tokyo Film Festival 2023
The Tokyo International Film Festival (TIFF), set to run October 23 to November 1, revealed the lineup for its 36th edition, including 20 world premieres across its two competition strands. The festival features 15 titles in its main Competition section led by Japan and China..
GoCritic! Animest 2023 :: Review :: The Siren
As shown through the eyes of a teenage boy, Sepideh Farsi's animated film shows both the horrors and kindness that wartime brings. A striking, bleakly beautiful account of living in a war zone, which captures a traumatic and..
LONDON 2023 :: Review :: Celluloid Underground
Unsuitable films were burned after the Islamic regime took over Iran. But one man stashed away reels and reels of banned and western movies – to thrill a new generation in secret film clubs.. A salute to the underground film lovers..
Golshifteh Farahani On the Shocking News of One of Iran's most prominent film-makers' Murder
"I did my very first movie 'The Pear Tree' with him when I was 14 years old. He was One of the most incredible directors of Iran and a great friend throughout these 26 years"..
Noted Iranian film director and his wife found stabbed to death in their home
Fans of the celebrated Iranian film director Dariush Mehrjui have woken to the shocking news of his murder at home by an unknown assailant. He was 83. He was a co-founder of Iran’s film new wave in the early 1970s..
ORCA :: A Protest Against Hate, Intolerance and Dehumanization
Iranian swimmer (Taraneh Alidoosti) fights abuse and oppression with an “Orca” as her Spirit Animal. This drama ... is a genuinely inspiring story, in part because it doesn't adhere to the formula we might expect..
Copenhagen Cinematheque :: 'Leila's Brothers' :: Film of the Month in October
Iranian cinema surprised at last year's Cannes festival – this time with a screwball comedy about finances and love, family relations and generational gaps..
LOCARNO 2023 :: Radu Jude :: Interview :: It's Later Than You Think
Jude once again proves himself to be one of the most original auteurs of our times. Moreover, his lack of fear at being controversial – or simply wrong – allows him to create cinema on an extraordinary scale that does not necessarily..
OSCARS 2024 :: European titles submitted for the Oscars race
European countries reveal their titles submitted for the Best International Feature Film Award at the 2024 Academy Awards. With the 96th Academy Awards ceremony scheduled to take place in Hollywood on 10 March, 2024..
Oscars 2024 :: Denmark Picks ‘The Promised Land’ for Best International Feature Category
Denmark has picked its 2024 Oscar contender, selecting period epic The Promised Land as its official Academy Award entry in the best international feature category..
Oscars 2024 :: Sweden selects Milad Alami’s 'Opponent' as Oscar candidate
“We are very proud and honoured to be the Swedish submission to the Oscars this year! I am personally extra proud of our fantastic actors and our team.” Alami said. The film produced by Annika Rogell for Tangy is also nominated for..
Female Freedom Fighters :: The Politics of Women's Hair
Why the World’s First Feminist Revolution is Happening in Iran. A female revolution is underway in Iran. The mullahs are fighting back with brutal force. A year after it all began, women aren't giving up..
Oscars 2024 :: 'The Night Guardian' :: Iran Oscar entry
Iran has submitted Reza Mirkarimi’s The Night Guardian for Best International Film category at the 96th Academy Awards, in a move that will likely prompt pushback from the country’s dissident film community..
Venice 2023 :: ‘Green Border’ Review: Agnieszka Holland’s Humanitarian heart-in-mouth thriller Masterpiece
A modern-day resistance movie dealing with a new kind of fascism, and very much of a piece with Holland's previous classics 'In Darkness'..
Venice 2023 Winners :: Full List :: Golden Lion Goes To Yorgos Lanthimos For ‘Poor Things’
The 80th Venice Film Festival handed out its awards and Yorgos Lanthimos has clinched the top prize with his latest feature Poor Things, starring Emma Stone; Hamaguchi, Sarsgaard..
Venice 2023 :: ‘Evil Does Not Exist’ Review :: Ryusuke Hamaguchi Delivers A Constantly Surprising Film
Nature cannot be evil, only indifferent. But what about us? Hamaguchi is not interested in taking the easy road to a satisfactory resolution. On the contrary; his story runs up hard against..
Venice 2023 :: ‘The Beast’ Review :: Bertrand Bonello’s Trippy Sci-Fi
Is it sci-fi? Is it a romance? Is it a mystery? Is it a drama? It’s all these things together and none of them at the same time. It is moving and alienating, intellectual and visceral, it is challenging and confusing but it’s undeniably a..
Venice 2023 :: Woody Allen Gets Rapturous Reception :: Talks Love Of European Cinema; Life-Career Luck..
Allen was last in Venice in 2007, with Cassandra’s Dream starring Colin Farrell and Ewan McGregor, and prior to that was invited in 1995 to receive a Career Golden Lion, but did..
VENICE 2023 Giornate degli Autori :: Interview: Ayat Najafi :: Director of The Sun Will Rise
The director talks about his Iranian-shot film, which documents the trials and tribulations of a theatre company, while outside, in the streets, youngsters are demonstrating..
Venice 2023 Flash Mob :: In Solidarity with Iranian pro-democracy protests
Jane Campion, Damien Chazelle, Zar Amir Ebrahimi and Guy Nattiv joined a flash mob on the Venice Film Festival’s red carpet on Saturday in support of the Woman, Life, Freedom protests in Iran..
Venice 2023 (Orizzonti) :: ‘Tatami’ Review :: Potent Political Sport Thriller
Billed as the first feature film to be co-directed by an Iranian and an Israeli filmmaker, “Tatami” goes all in with a lean and tense narrative that is part sport movie, part political thriller — with both parts equally neatly realized..
Variety (EXCLUSIVE) :: Iranian Filmmaker Ali Asgari Banned From Traveling & Making Movies
Ali Asgari, whose latest film “Terrestrial Verses” (co-directed by Alireza Khatami) world premiered at the Cannes Film Festival, has been banned by the Iranian authorities from leaving the country and directing movies until further notice..
Venice 2023 :: ‘Priscilla’ Gets 7-Minute-Plus Ovation In Venice
Sofia Coppola’s Priscilla got a rousing response at its world premiere at the Venice Film Festival on Monday evening. The pic, a biopic of Priscilla Presley, who was in attendance for the movie based on the memoir she co-authored, scored..
Venice 2023 :: ‘Poor Things’ Review :: Emma Stone In Yorgos Lanthimos’ Glorious Paean To Freedom
Flamboyant, florid, fantastic, and freakish, this might well be one of the most unique movies you’ll ever see. Screening in competition in Venice and certainly one of the most eagerly..
Venice 2023 :: The Promised Land (Bastarden) :: Mads Mikkelsen At His Staunch, Heroic Best
A classic Scandinavian drama about human frailty, The Promised Land is earthy, enjoyable stuff: an expansive, sweeping epic with hope in its heart and dirt under its nails..
Venice 2023 :: ‘El Conde’ Review :: Pablo Larraín’s Latest Is A Bold, Wildly Irreverent Sensational Creation
A madly inspired reinvention of events embedded in the notion that longtime Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet became a vampire who ultimately tires of life and wants out after..
Venice Film Festival 2023 :: All Of Deadline’s Movie Reviews
The Venice Film Festival began August 30 with opening-night movie 'Comandante', an Italian World War II drama.. Deadline is on the ground to watch all the key films. Here is a compilation of our reviews from the fest..
Lars Von Trier Makes A Social Media Plea For A Girlfriend/Muse
He Says He Has “A Few Decent Films” Left In Him. Should we actually be surprised when Lars von Trier goes on social media to post a video about his search for a new girlfriend? Will Lars von Trier find her, and thus, continue his life as a feature..
'SUBTRACTION' :: TORONTO STAR :: REVIEW
“They don’t just look like us, It’s like we’re clones.” Seeing is believing: after getting a peek at the look-alikes in question, skeptical but sympathetic Jalal can only agree that something spooky is going on..
Celebrated Iranian Filmmaker Receives Prison Sentence over "Leila’s Brothers"
Renowned filmmaker and screenwriter Saeed Roustayi has been handed a six-month prison sentence, along with supplementary penalties, by the Tehran Revolutionary Court, as revealed by..
LOCARNO 2023 Competition
Review: ‘Do Not Expect Too Much from the End of the World’

Radu Jude’s eighth fiction feature seems to imply that the apocalypse might not arrive as a spectacular big bang, but rather as a flood of stupidity – and it’s actually already here..
Locarno Film Festival Awards :: ‘Critical Zone,’ the Film the Iranian Government Doesn’t Want to Be Seen, Wins Big at Swiss Fest
The hype is real: Ali Ahmadzadeh’s “Critical Zone” (“Mantagheye bohrani”) has picked up the top Golden Leopard at Locarno. ..
LOCARNO 2023 Competition
Review: 'Critical Zone'

Ali Ahmadzadeh’s third film defies Iran’s authoritarian regime, painting the portrait of a tired and unpredictable society which now believes in nothing but artificial paradises..
'Silent House' :: Award winner at Melgaco film festival 2023
“My brother and I weren’t able to leave (Iran) due to false and unfair accusations that were made against us. We lost many opportunities that our film created for us due to the ban”..
Welcome to Online Film Home!

Cannes 2024: Mohammad Rasoulof Speaking to IndieWire

Cannes 2024
Mohammad Rasoulof Speaking to IndieWire
Mohammad Rasoulof Made It to Cannes for ‘Seed of the Sacred Fig,’ but His Perilous Journey Out of Iran Isn’t Over.

By Ritesh Mehta, IndieWire
May 23, 2024

Mohammad Rasoulof Made It to Cannes for ‘Seed of the Sacred Fig,’ but His Perilous Journey Out of Iran Isn’t Over.

"I consider making works of art as my right, and there’s no reason why I wouldn’t fight for this right," Rasoulof, who fled Iran after an eight-year prison sentence and just arrived in Cannes, tells IndieWire.

After a perilous 28-day journey fleeing Iran and setting foot in Germany, Mohammad Rasoulof has finally made it to Cannes, safe for now and cautiously eager for the premiere of his fourth Cannes feature, “The Seed of the Sacred Fig,” announced by the festival a month ago as a late addition to the Competition.


France Cannes 2024 Mohammad Rasoulof Portraits

The last images he takes away from his home — after just having two hours to make the monumental decision whether to be re-incarcerated for a harsh sentence that might still be extended, or to join the constellation of Iranian artists in potentially permanent exile — are the plants and flowers in his apartment, which he worried would have no caretaker. There was also a certain imposing mountain that he can view from his window. It’s there he can see the wall of Evin Prison, where he was last incarcerated in 2022 after speaking out against the government and in support of other arrested filmmakers.

Rasoulof appeared fresh and grateful, even serene, at the Terrasse du Festivals at the Palais doing his first rounds of press in Cannes. But speaking to IndieWire via translator, he said he is completely preoccupied with the safety and well-being of the cast and crew of his film. They were banned from departing Iran and have in recent weeks been harassed by Iranian authorities in lengthy interrogations and issued directives to pressure the festival to withdraw the film.

These are the same actors and collaborators whom he trusted would help keep the production of the film a secret, similar to how his Golden Bear-winning previous feature “There Is No Evilwas also filmed in secret. In fact, one of the key cast members on “Seed,” Soheila Golestani, was imprisoned after participating in the historic “Woman, Life, Freedom” protests that rocked the authoritarian regime starting September 2022, after the brutal death of Mahsa Jina Amini. Everyone understood the stakes and, after the ordeal, the film somehow got finished on time, aided in part by the slow judicial process between the announcement and the finalization of the latest sentence.

Rasoulof, in a statement issued shortly after his arrival in Europe, noted he is fully aware that his situation is not exceptional. Especially given that the judicial system of the Islamic Republic reaches new heights of repression and brutality every day, and all artists, including rappers such as Toomaj Salehi, not just filmmakers, are in danger of persecution.

Seed of the Sacred Fig,” about a judge from the Revolutionary Guard Court who turns against his own family when his two daughters join a protest, speaks directly to the latest oppositions and fascist machinations tearing apart Iran. Yet Rasoulof believes that acts of subversion will always surface because the government cannot control and monitor everything.


The Seed of the Sacred Fig’ Courtesy Neon

In the last two days, both the Directors Guild of America and a cohort of international filmmakers have issued statements in support of Rasoulof and other persecuted Iranian filmmakers. The latter group includes Sean Baker and Payal Kapadia, whose films “Anora” and “All We Imagine as Light” respectively, play alongside “Seed” in the 2024 Cannes competition.

During the interview, Rasoulof took out his phone and showed me photos of his beloved plants in his apartment, and of the mountain that has come to hold a greatly vexed meaning for him. As for his plants, his sister has arranged for someone to come in and water them.

This interview, conducted via translator, has been edited and condensed for clarity.

IndieWire: You are no stranger to arrests, bans, and sentences. Can you talk more about the sentence in April? How much did the news about the production of the film lead to the sentencing?

Mohammad Rasoulof: Well, no, this sentence was related to films that I had made before, or things that I had signed. It wasn’t related to this film. I had been through one third of the shooting [on ‘Seed of the Sacred Fig’] when the court finally delivered the sentence. I knew it would arrive one day or the other. And as the eight years of jail was announced, I was just hoping to finish my film. Of course, I could have withdrawn if I wanted to, but I consider making works of art as my right, and there’s no reason why I wouldn’t fight for this right. I decided to carry on working with the hope that just because of the slowness of the process, I would be able to finish. There was an appeals court, so before the sentence was confirmed, I was able to finish shooting at least.

How does this sentence feel different?

I feel in retrospect that that becomes a black box, of tons of information about the system. Interrogations, prisons, courts, censorship, all kinds of restrictions. At some point, … I had to decide whether I would take it with me in prison and try to do something with it there, or leave the country, no matter how difficult the decision it was for me, and open it up.

Very few filmmakers have to make such a difficult decision, whether to leave the country, or stay and go to prison. Can you talk about the emotions you felt in the last days as you made your decision?

I remember when I was in my home and made this decision. I walked around. I have lots of flowers and plants. It is very difficult to bid farewell to your home, to think that you might never see it again. But I did it and didn’t look back.

Something both funny and tragic is that at my home, my window opens on a mountain where you can see the wall of Evin Prison, where I was imprisoned [in 2022]. [Rasoulof shows a picture on his phone of the view from his window.] Every morning, I have this view. If I could fly there, it would be 500 meters, no more. Every morning, I say, “Here are my friends. I’ll be soon with them.” So, what I remember when leaving my home is my last look at the mountain, where I thought I [would have to] go back.



The Seed of the Sacred Fig’ Cannes Film Festival

Was there an image or story from the actual 2022-2023 “Women.Life.Freedom” protests in Iran that inspired a scene in the film, or the story of the film?

I just tried to imagine the life of a person like this [the protagonist, who is a judge in the Revolutionary Guard Court] and his family. What do these people feel from the inside? What’s their dilemma? If a person like this wishes to change, sees a different path, but still is stopped from choosing the other path, what is it that stops him? That was my focus, the criteria for what makes him not be able to change.

Was there a lot of secrecy in making this film, and how difficult was that?

It was extremely frustrating because sometimes you cannot get what you want. For hours, I was sitting at the back of the car, just with the monitor, and with the walkie-talkie to talk to my assistant. And it was hard. Filmmaking is difficult in general, but this type of filmmaking is especially difficult.

This is your third time visiting Cannes (and your fourth film overall to play here). Given the trying, unique circumstances of your visit, is there anything you are excited or perhaps nervous about?

I am worried about the cast and crew of the film that are in Iran, and are being harassed and put in danger. I’m really hoping that the festival is going to be vocal … with a loud voice … to support them and to try to protect them as much as possible. At the same time, I’m extremely relieved and excited that the film was finally finished, and that the voice of these people will be heard and their image will be seen.

Seed of the Sacred Fig” premieres at the 2024 Cannes Film Festival on Friday, May 24. Neon handles U.S. distribution.



Night Train To Lisbon
Annette Focks


Search


Search Online Film Home:

fa en




Choose an item to go there!


Links


Home
Archived news
OFH Bright version
Iran news

Find a birthday!